Why Vladimir Putin's Name Was Covered On A 9/11 Memorial Statue

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been the subject of controversy from the time he first came to power in 1999. Never more so, perhaps, then in the aftermath of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, according to Britannica. In 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., though, the scene was much different, as Putin and other world leaders expressed their support for the United States and its anti-terrorism effort. During this time, it even seemed possible that Putin and then-U.S. President George W. Bush could become friendly, based on NPR reporting.

In 2005, further evidence of those improved relations came when the Russian leader offered the U.S. the September 11th Teardrop Memorial, a gift from the Russian people and a monument to the lives lost on 9/11 and in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The Russian leader even traveled to the U.S. to help lay the cornerstone for the project, now standing in Bayonne, New Jersey within sight of downtown Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty at The Memorial at Harbor View ParkĀ  As part of the process, Putin's name was engraved in two places. But now, because of the Ukraine invasion, all traces of the divisive Russian president have been covered up, according to NBC New York.

The monument is officially called 'To the Struggle Against World Terrorism'

According to Fox 5 New York, the monument standing in Bayonne is officially called "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism," and it gained the September 11th Teardrop Memorial nickname because of its shape. It was designed by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli. The site where it stands was officially dedicated in 2006. As part of the Teardrop Monument stands a memorial to nearly a dozen Bayonne residents who died on 9/11, according to NBC New York.

On the monument, Putin's name shows up twice: on the structure itself, and on a nearby bronze plaque. Referring to the decision to obscure Putin's name after Russia invaded Ukraine, Jimmy Davis, Bayonne's mayor, said (via Fox 5 New York), "I've had people say to me this monument is tarnished now because [of] Vladimir Putin, it's from the people of Russia ... This war wasn't started by the people of Russia. This war was started by one person. And that's Vladimir Putin. So we're removing his name."

At first, Putin's name was covered with gaffer's tape

In the immediate aftermath of Russia's Ukraine invasion, Putin's name was obscured with gaffer's tape, but as NBC New York writes, it was then more permanently covered with an acrylic board. According to The Hill, there were plans to permanently remove Putin's name as soon as a way could be found to do so without damaging the sculpture and the plaque. On the name-removal project, Bayonne Department of Public Works director Tom Cotter said (via The Hill), "It's unfortunate Putin's name's on the monument, but I don't want this to be a Putin thing. I still want this to be a 9/11 monument ... Basically what's happening in Ukraine right now is like a form of terrorism, the invasion of that country."

Bayonne's mayor at the time the Putin name-removal project took place, Jimmy Davis, went on to add that deleting Putin's name was an alternative to taking the whole thing down. According to NBC New York, Davis said, "This monument is going nowhere. We just removed Vladimir ... I don't ever want to hear someone say that this monument has to come down, because they're going to have to go through me to take this monument down."